Women dying during pregnancy ‘up 27%’, says RCOG

BBC News

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists UK Director Dr Joanna Morrison says the number of stillbirths before 28 weeks’ gestation has almost doubled in 10 years, from 1,600 to 2,400. But fewer women are being diagnosed. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has put the rise down to a lack of early detection and treatment. Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. The RCOG and doctors’ leader charity NCT have launched a campaign for universal screening, with action now needed to reduce the number of early stillbirths. [The press conference at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was televised here] The figures uncovered by a BBC News investigation show a rise of 27% in women in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are diagnosed with early-stage stillbirth. These are high-risk pregnancies as their mothers face high risks of complications such as infections and poor milk production. More than three-quarters of this group – 74% – are thought to be women whose blood tests initially showed a normal pregnancy. RCPG explains stillbirths early in pregnancy are mostly the result of the placenta dying prematurely. The trust-funded figures come from a study by Newcastle University that looked at data from 20 NHS trusts and revealed a “grey area”. […] Women are dying during pregnancy. The number of women dying during pregnancy has almost doubled in 10 years. That is a scandal

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt “It is not a simple figure,” said Professor Doug Brown of Newcastle University. “Not all of these babies die within the first two weeks, so these are not ‘true’ stillbirths.” Professor Brown said, contrary to what had been long thought, many women who had died with a stillbirth did so just weeks after birth, partly because of a difficult finding of the life threatening virus HRP1. Around 1,000 women who had died were found to have carried the Hyperemesis Gravidarum virus (HG) and most had had the only recognised treatment: IVF. The Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a debilitating disease affecting around 1 in 50 women who undergo IVF. In 2015, just 3% were being treated, compared with 65% in 2010. Professor Brown told the news conference the problem of late detection had worsened over the past 10 years and around 23,000 people in England and Wales were dying every year with not even one being tested or referred. The numbers have increased in England and Wales, with a 75% rise in England and Wales since 2006 – 22% in Wales. Despite that, only around 2,000 women were diagnosed every year. Earlier diagnosis is key

IRS ‘Doctor’ is not the best indicator of risk, says study The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is leading the campaign to increase awareness of the issue. Ruth McGuire, from the NCT, said: “Just because there’s no real red flags doesn’t mean it’s not happening. As a nation we have lost our sense of what is normal.” She said women were often not talking about the issue, because they were embarrassed. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has said people have to do more to promote early detection. The Department of Health said it was not surprised by the rise of stillbirths, as the government had funded a number of services to support care. But Mr Hunt said: “We want to make sure the work we are doing is working. “The figures suggest we’re losing even more women in pregnancy who shouldn’t be and have to work hard to save them and other babies from early deaths.” The government has been funding several initiatives over the past few years, including the project Co-reproduction Score, which has resulted in a reduction in the number of women leaving hospital with serious pre-eclampsia and an increase in awareness of risks of getting a diagnosis. Dr Joanna Morrison, the RCOG’s head of communications, said: “Health care needs to recognise the clustering in stillbirths and provide support, as well as act promptly on missing screening. “Women are dying during pregnancy. The number of women dying during pregnancy has almost doubled in 10 years. That is a scandal.”

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